Sunday, February 15, 2009

Hypocrites of the left and right

I'm a hypocrite of the left. I take a subway to synagogue on the Sabbath/Shabbat, but protest when my local synagogue decides to buy cakes from neighborhood bakeries that don't have rabbinical supervision (to ensure that their products are kosher).

My rabbi is a hypocrite of the right. He studied at a well-known right-wing Orthodox rabbinical school and teaches at a right-wing Orthodox yeshiva, but doesn't hesitate to eat cake served at kiddush even though he knows that it was bought at a nearby unsupervised bakery.

On the other hand, I'm going to quote from a comment that I posted on Fudge's blog in response to this post:

"Fudge, you yourself introduced me to the phrase “dan l’kaf z’chut” several years ago in one of your posts. The translation given of this saying from Pirkei Avot (Verses [Ethics] of the Fathers) in my Artscroll siddur (prayer book) is “judge [everyone] favorably,” and I gather that this phrase is used the way we use “give [a person] the benefit of the doubt” in English. It seems to me that dan l’kaf z’chut might apply to the situation that you described."

Maybe dan l’kaf z’chut applies to the situation that I'm describing, as well. Maybe the rabbi checked out the bakery himself and found that it conformed to the laws of kashrut/keeping kosher. I'll have to ask him.

Stay tuned for the sequel.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm. Not sure where to start, so, glad to read you're feeling better & healing better.

Like many folks, including, apparently, you, I would really like things to be black and white. Someone very close to me shares this perspective. But how things really are, as opposed to how I want them to be, are rarely the same. Long ago, I accepted the fact that very little is "black and white"; rather, it is all varying shades of gray. I understood this in a professional sense -- former journalist, current attorney -- long before I understood it in a personal sense. And no, I'm not making a case for amorality. There are limits. But in the world we live in today, especially once you step outside an insulated and insular community, existence requires compromise. But each of us chooses our own compromises. That's not hypocrisy, unless you live by your compromise but deny it to the rest of the world. Your rabbi is eating with the congregation, not leaving before kiddush. Not only may he have satisfied himself as to the bakery's kashrut, but perhaps he has decided that respect for the congregation and facilitating community is more important. You are not hypocritical in riding on shabbat, unless you pretend to others that you don't. You're conflating hypocrisy with personal compromise, and that's a quantum leap which is unnecessary.
As I hope you can tell from my occasional comments, I really enjoy your blog. And I love watching you struggle with your desire for "black and white". You romanticize your personal image of the orthodox, but too many of your sincere personal values -- your feminism comes to mind as just one example -- fundamentally conflict with that image.
Frankly, the fact that you struggle is much more indicative of your commitment to conservative judaism; since that's what its really all about these days. But sooner or later (sooner would be better at this point), you really need to accept that commitment, and where you fit, and stop beating yourself up because you're not orthodox. Notwithstanding what some in that community might say (and not all would); you are just as much a Jew.

Sun Feb 15, 08:27:00 PM 2009  
Blogger GoldaLeah said...

Don't forget -- judge yourself favorably, too :)

Sun Feb 15, 09:49:00 PM 2009  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Steve, a black & white world would be easier in many ways. But alas . . . (Sigh.)

"You are not hypocritical in riding on shabbat, unless you pretend to others that you don't. You're conflating hypocrisy with personal compromise, and that's a quantum leap which is unnecessary." Perhaps you're right, and I should give myself a break.

"You romanticize your personal image of the orthodox . . ." Maybe so--I have this notion that the Orthodox are more consistent in their practice than many of us non-Orthos. But considering the range of haskafot (religious perspectives), ranging from Open Orthodox through Chareidi, within the Orthodox community, it could be argued that consistency within the Orthodox community exists only within each subgroup. This reminds me of a recent post by Steg asking at what point his fellow and sister Modern Orthodox Jews realized that non-Modern Orthodox Jews don't consider Modern Orthodox Jews Orthodox.

"the fact that you struggle is much more indicative of your commitment to conservative judaism . . ." I've sometimes said that I'm too cussedly independent, and too insistent on thinking for myself, to be Orthodox. As annoyingly inconsistent as Conservative Jews and Judaism may sometimes seem, I don't seem to fit any better in any other movement.

Mon Feb 16, 11:56:00 PM 2009  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

GoldaLeah, thanks for the "don't knock yourself" reminder. It's sometimes necessary.

Nice artwork.

Tue Feb 17, 12:01:00 AM 2009  

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